ICE HOCKEY: Double whammy for Belfast Giants as they lose to Fife Flyers and Nottingham Panthers

Action from the Belfast Giants' clash with Fife Flyers
Action from the Belfast Giants' clash with Fife Flyers

The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a 5-4 defeat on Sunday afternoon against the Nottingham Panthers at The SSE Arena.

Missing four key players through injury, the Giants forged an early 2-0 lead, but could not hold out as the game finished 4-4 before the Panthers claimed the additional point in the shootout.

Nickerson, Walser, Higgins and Peacock were all on the injury list for this one, however it was the hosts who opened the scoring as Colin Shields finished off a nice move with James Desmarais at 8:18.

Desmarais then turned from provider to scorer at 15:58 as he hammered home from close range to extend the Giants lead at the end of the first 20 minutes of play.

At 26:57 Robert Farmer pulled one back for the visitors before the Panthers tied things up with a fluke of a second goal as a speculative shot by Juraj Kolnik deflected and looped into the Giants net.

However, the Giants edged into the lead again as Mike Wilson tipped in a pass from Brandon Benedict on the powerplay to make it 3-2 at the end of the second period.

Kolnik made it 3-3 with his second goal of the game at 51:40 – his 25th goal of the season for Nottingham. Mike Radja gave the Giants the lead once again with a fine finish at 52:42, however the Panthers struck back as Schultz made it 4-4 with less than five minutes remaining to take the game to overtime.

With no score during the five minutes of sudden death overtime, the game went to a penalty shootout with the Nottingham Panthers taking the win following dramatic seven rounds.

Sunday’s defeat came hot on the heels of a 4-3 loss to the Fife Flyers on Saturday night in Scotland.

The home side came back from 3-2 down going into the final period to claim the two points, however it is the Flyers third goal that was the main talking point of the game when Referee Cowan awarded the goal with Giants players adamant the puck did not cross the line – seemingly hitting the crossbar and bouncing away from the goal.

The Giants faced an uphill battle from the start, missing Derrick Walser, Chris Higgins and Matt Nickerson through injury with David Rutherford serving a one game suspension.

Justin Fox opened the scoring at 2:17 for his 20th goal of the season before James Desmarais equalised for the visitors at 9:03 with a fine finish past David Brown in the Flyers net. Although the hosts took the lead going into the first intermission as Nicholas Rioux scored on the powerplay at 17:35.

Into the second period and the Giants came out firing on all cylinders and their dominance paid off - turing the game on its head to lead 3-2 after forty minutes, first through Colin Shields’ strike at 28:42 to tie things up and then Jonathan Boxill with the go ahead goal at 33:16.

The main talking point of this game will undoubtedly be the Fife third goal with those Giants players on the ice at the time visibly angry that the goal had been awarded when the puck seemed to strike the crossbar instead. However, the powerplay goal was given to Nico Sacchetti at 47:35 and the game was all square at 3-3.

It was Sacchetti who scored the Flyers fourth and, ultimately, the game winner at 52:22 with a powerplay strike to take the win for the hosts.

The Giants return to action almost immediately with an Elite League clash on Tuesday in Belfast against the Sheffield Steelers – face-off 7pm.